Jackson Heights was the featured entertainment at the First Baptist Church’s Family on the 6th celebration in Port St. Joe. [ David Adlerstein | The Star ]
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A weeklong birthday bash

With government offices closed both Thursday and Friday, last week turned into a sprawling six-day party in Gulf and Franklin counties for America’s 248th birthday.

From Carrabelle to Wewahitchka, most every night featured fireworks, beginning on July 1 in Eastpoint, with its third annual Freedom Festival.

The Eastpoint Civic Association raised around $40,000 to put on the festival, and light up Apalachicola Bay with a dazzling fireworks display. Among the most joyous moments of the event, which was moved closer to the water to keep down the numbers of people strolling across U.S. 98, was an appearance on a golf cart by Rex Pennycuff, the president of the civic association, who has recently returned home after spending several months in a Pensacola hospital recuperating from a life-threatening illness.

Tuesday was the only quiet day of the week, as Wednesday featured Apalachicola’s annual Independence Eve extravaganza. The event kicked off precisely at 3 p.m. with a flyover by a pair of F-35 Lightning jets from Tyndall Air Force Base.

Following a golf cart parade from Lafayette Park to the growing crowd at Riverfront Park, led by grand marshall Thomas Webb riding in a fire truck, the program began with the singing of God Bless America by Gordon Adkins and the Star-Spangled Banner by Faith Lynch.

The audience then heard from Karl Ivey, a West Point grad and former Army officer who is a retired attorney who practiced in a small town astride the Kentucky and Tennessee line. He closed his law office in 2016 and moved here to be near his daughter, a teacher at the Apalachicola Bay Charter School, and enjoy the quiet life on the Forgotten Coast. 

Active as a Boy Scout leader, Ivey is an officer in American Legion Post 106, a mentor at Franklin County High School and an officer of the local Liberty Caucus chapter. (For a look at Ivey’s remarks, see sidebar.)

An impressive fireworks display followed over the Apalachicola River, presented by the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce.

On Thursday, the morning featured the annual Wet ‘N Wild drenchfest parade on St. George Island, with a record crowd on hand for the soggy celebration.

On the island, where it was funded by private funds, and in Gulf County, where the county commission funded them, fireworks lit up the night, both in Lake Alice Park in Wewahitchka, and in Lighthouse Park in Port St. Joe, where the First Baptist Church hosted a Family on the 4th event with music by Jackson Heights.

On Friday, July 5, Carrabelle planned to hold its fireworks display, but a mechanical glitch by the pyrotechnics company forced a cancellation until Saturday night. The following night proved to be a huge success, with a stirring show over the Carrabelle River.

Patriotism is ‘comradeship and unity’

The following are excerpts from the remarks given by Karl Ivey, a retired Army officer, who gave the keynote address at Apalachicola’s July 3 celebration. A self-described Army Brat and grew up on Army bases in Japan, France and around the US, Ivey is the son of paratrooper who went on to West Point and later became a paratrooper and Ranger serving in the 82d Airborne Division, then on to Vietnam where I served with the 173d Airborne Brigade. After attending law school, he returned to active duty and had assignments in Germany, NATO headquarters in Belgium, the 101st Airborne Division and finally as the commanding general’s legal advisor at the Special Forces School.

What is patriotism? Patriotism is proudly loving your country, accepting the validity of its general historical path and caring how the future treats you and your nation. Next, patriotism is Identifying with or having a feeling of comradeship or unity with those who feel the same as you. And then there is the devotion or duty you feel you owe to your country by being part of something bigger than yourself. It is shown by personal actions often involving minor inconveniences and even sacrifices.
We have a long history, a full heritage of our forefathers who acted sacrificially and with extreme efforts to accomplish the wondrous things that gave us freedom, economic freedom, economic strength and security. We grew up seeing and hearing about family and neighbors who stood up to face challenges while never wavering in their choices as they set an example for each of us.
Up until the last two decades we had an education system that focused on the history of our nation’s founding, teaching the reasons for the American Revolution, the advances made as our country grew industrially and demographically. We learned that the national seal’s words “E pluribus unum” meant “Out of many, one.” And we learned that our national motto, “In God We Trust” has been a description of what our founders and later generations felt was why our land and mixture of various peoples were so blessed. 

We used to have choir in schools where we were taught those patriotic songs we know 
And we said the Pledge Of Allegiance at the start of our school day
Military service is often a family thing, with fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, brothers having served. Their stories, their obvious pride in their service, and expectations within the family are all reasons why young men and women volunteer for military service. Of course many join for technical training or even to have a job, gain experience, and perhaps save some money before deciding on a career. The G.I. Bill is a fine incentive to attract volunteers.
Having been immersed in the close comradeship while together bearing sacrifices, and suffering together draws the military into cohesive groups capable of accomplishing unthinkable feats of bravery because they are among their military fellows, which becomes their family away from home. All have the same goals of mission accomplishment and seeing that the man next to you is able to make it through the challenge at hand. Those who have been through the crucible of the military have a closeness rarely achieved in our civilian life outside of police or fire departments. That common bond with efforts or sacrifices for the nation’s well being is, as we discussed, the foundation of patriotism
Political candidates often wrap themselves in the flag touting their military service as a way to show their additional qualifications to the voters. Some politicians gravitate toward patriotic pronouncements even if they had no military experience because they know veterans and their families are a voting block that regularly vote in high percentages vs non-veteran voters. And some politicians push patriotism to help them appear sympathetic to the big money industries that want Congress to buy their new weapon system. This is the Military-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower cautioned against.
Media attention often focuses on patriotism because they too see the benefits of our nation and hold such dearly. Many want to be seen as part of the people by reporting patriotic community events and because they know that such news is favored by their viewers/readers.
Lastly, Americans are a mixed bag of many ethnicities, cultures and former nationalities. It is our freedom to become as great as you are able, which helps many to see this as the best nation on earth. It is why some of the most outwardly patriotic citizens are those who came here legally and after years of effort and study passed the citizenship test and were granted the blessing that they had longed for. American citizenship.
But many, who were born here and thus received citizenship with no effort whatsoever do not hold our nation so dear. 
…..As you’d expect, most veterans accept that not everybody can serve the nation as they did, but that lack of military service does not make a person a lesser patriot just as being a veteran does not make veterans better patriots. 
Not all can serve. Overall we have about 6% of our population that has or are serving in our military; 41% of my generation 75 years and older served. But of today’s young generation (18 to 34 years) only 3% have served. In today’s 18 to 25 age group less than 2% are veterans or serving in our military. 
Patriots serve their nation when they register and vote. But before voting, they study the issues and check out both competing candidates to vote for the one who will better uphold the Constitution. They participate in governing by not trying to avoid jury duty. Yes, it is an inconvenience but patriots understand the need for justice to be evenhanded and that fair play in court cases is necessary to validate that government treats even the most heinous criminal or odious litigant exactly as the law requires. 
Veterans are very appreciative when some stranger sees our ball caps showing our prior service and says “thanks for your service.” But if you really want to go the extra mile, don’t put folks into office who are warhawks that want to send forces to places where we have no threats to our security or economy. 
And lastly we veterans want each patriot to mandate our schools teach civics and history of this great nation. But not from the point of view of all that our nation has done wrong, which has happened again and again. Instead, we veterans want our patriots to keep our school leadership focused on teaching what is good about our nation and why we have a republic and not a democracy and the genius of our founding fathers in what they drafted into our Constitution.
They did not want life dominated by politicians. They wanted a society made up of free individuals. They believed every human being has “unalienable rights” to life, liberty and (justly acquired) property.
The blueprints created by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution gradually created the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world. 
Patriots recognize that as individuals, we are not perfect and that no person elected to office will ever be perfect. Moreover, not one govt bureaucrat will ever be perfect, so we must as patriots require accountability and responsibility from those in government, at all levels, just as we face accountability in our jobs, when we too, fall short of expected standards.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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